Title and mortgage issues after abandonment

Asking for a friend. He owned a house with a partner. That partner is on the title and mortgage with him. My friend paid all the down payment. The partner paid half of mortgage and taxes for approx 9 months and then left him and has not paid a dime since a year ago or eighteen months ago. She refuses to take her name off the title or the mortgage until she gets a payout. Is there any way to get a person’s name off the title or the mortgage because of abandonment?

Asked on April 23, 2017 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, "abandonment" does not change someone's ownership rights, and if she is on the title, she is an owner. There is no way to remove her and take away her ownership interest. If your friend cannot voluntarily work something out with her--which will be almost certainly the most cost-effective way to proceed--he can file a lawsuit in chancery court (a part or division of county court) requesting that the court order the sale of the home and that the proceeds, after paying costs of sale and any mortgages, be distributed between the owners. In the lawsuit, he can ask the court--but is not guaranteed to succeed--to award him more than 50% due the extra costs, amounts, etc. he has paid. Since such a suit can be proceedural complex, he really should  retain an attorney to help him, so he should factor in the cost of the lawyer, too.

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